The Liberian public has been quite anxious, some despondent, over what appeared to be delays by Government’s security apparatuses to provide explanations and even reports on several critical incidents that have drawn enormous public interest and concerns. The delays had triggered anxieties and conspiracy theories and even rumormongering amongst the populace, with some laying some of the acts under investigation at the doorsteps of Government. But in a special edition of the Ministry of Information Press Briefing, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) took off time to leaf thorough some of the country’s recent intractable crimes and incidents, including the fracas that took place during a representative bi-election in Montserrado County, the mysterious killing of a senior Central Bank of Liberia staff and L$16 billion litigation amongst others. As The Analyst reports, the Ministry also commented rather furious but tersely on the misuse of the social media by some Liberians.
The Ministry of Justice has provided detailed explanation on the status of several investigations with which government security agencies have been engaged in the last several months.
The Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) regular Thursday Press Briefing was taken at the offices of the Ministry of Justice where senior officials headed by Minister Musah F. Dean provided updates on a couple of investigation reports.
The LS$16 billion Investigation
Minister Dean first took the case of excess printing of Liberian banknotes which prompted the Government of Liberia to put under prosecution former and present officials of the Central Bank
On March 4, 2019, the government of Liberia acting through the Ministry of Justice, arrested charged and indicted five (5) senior officials of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and Crane Currency of Sweden.
These arrested charged and indicted are Milton A. Weeks, former Executive Governor; Charles E. Sirleaf Deputy, Governor for Operation; Dorbor M. Hagba, Director of the Finance Department; Richard M. Walker, Director for Operations and Joseph Dennis, Deputy Director for Internal Audit.
These current and past officials were arrested charged and indicted for Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy and Criminal Facilitation. They have since been released on bail and are awaiting trial by Criminal Court “C” which, according to the Minister of Justice, is scheduled for the May Term.
Minister Dean also reported that based on recommendations contained in the Kroll and Presidential Investigation Team’s Reports which call for further understanding and investigation into the US$ 25 m dollar Mop-Up Exercise by directive of the President, His Excellency George Manneh Weah, the Ministry of Justice has commissioned an investigative audit by the General Audit Commission (GAC).
The Term of Reference (ToR) and Letter of Engagement have been duly executed to commence the investigative audit, he said, adding, “The GAC has asked for six (6) weeks to do a thorough investigative audit and the request was granted.”
Report on Death of CBL Senior Staff
The Minister of Justice briefed that media that on March 3,2019, the Crime Against Person Unit of the Liberia National Police was informed by the Zone Nine(9) Police Commander about an alleged hit and run incident, resulting in to the death of victim Matthew Innis at 72nd Paynesville.
He said following an investigation that was thorough and exhaustive, it was discovered that the deceased left his 72nd Broad Street residence on Saturday morning March 2,2019,for his Central Bank Office on Ashmun Street, and was seen back in his community at about 20:00 am, Sunday morning.
The deceased did not go home directly: but passed his intersection and stopped his vehicles on the main road, disembarked from his vehicle without shoes, wearing only socks on his feet, with his car engine still on and stood on the road looking at his vehicle.
While the deceased was still looking at his vehicle, the Justice Minister said, an unidentified vehicle came from 72nd direction, speeding in the middle of the road, hit the deceased and escaped the scene.
He revealed that when the deceased was hit by the unknown vehicle, Junior Wesseh, aka Lucky Boy, a resident of the area witnessed the incident made an advance to the unknown vehicle while still in motion and called out to the driver to stop because he had someone; but the driver fled the scene with terrific speed.
Messers. Lucky Richard and L. Henry F. Davis both residents of the area were in the vicinity when the incident occurred and ran to the scene while the deceased was still alive, Minister Dean said further. That police officer Jackson O. Kollie, along with two (2) other officers drove to the scene in the vehicle of Mr. Isaiah T. Gibson while the deceased was still lying behind his vehicle. The deceased was placed in his vehicle, a white Toyota-4 Runner Jeep, with license plate number 51448, and taken to the Peace Home Clinic at the 72nd Junction for medical attention, but were referred to a bigger hospital.
He said the deceased was then taken to the ELWA hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival by Dr. Anthony O. Josiah with medical Board License number 895-13.
It was while at the ELWA Hospital where the deceased was pronounced dead, the police officers were joined by the deceased’s family members, in persons of Oldada Deshield, brother of the deceased; Victoria Deshield, Spouse of Oldada Deshield; Esther Innis, sister of the deceased; Abel Washington. Community Pastor and Joseph Simoke.
The said family members requested the Medical Certificate of Death and transferred the deceased to the Samuel A. Stryker Funeral Parlour;
According to the Justice Minister, the deceased’s personal effects, found in the vehicles, including, a Samsung Galaxy Duel cell phone, one black HP-Laptop with charger, one green face cap, one blue back bag, two pairs of sneakers(Black and Blue),one internet modem, one CBL working identification Card and nine(9) discs were turned over to his family and the vehicle was taken to the zone nine(9) Police Sub-station for further processing.
The Justice Minster concluded that only hit and run was established as findings for homicide in the investigation. The promised that Liberia National Police shall continue to pursue every lead geared at arresting the driver of the hit and run vehicle. The remains were turned over to the family for burial.
Other major case investigation report provided the Justice Minister was the controversial armed robbery that allegedly took place at the offices of the controversial Roots FM in Monrovia.
First giving the history, the Justice Minister said on February 11, 2019, Emmanuel Karmo a private security guard assigned at the Johnson Street Lone Star Tower appeared at the Liberia National Police, Johnson Street Bridge Check point and reported an alleged armed robbery which he said was in progress at the Roots FM Radio Station premises located on Ashmun Street, Monrovia.
The Commander of the Check point immediately called the LNP Headquarters and reported the matter.
Minister Dean said based upon the information received, a team of anti-robbery officers, headed by Superintendent Vah D. Morris, immediately rushed to the Roots FM premises on Ashmun Street, but were informed by a security guard on duty that he was not aware of any incident of theft at the Roots FM premises.
Superintendent Vah D. Morris then called Officer Emmanuel Jarwee, Zone 2 Commander who informed Superintendent Morris that the incident occurred at the Lone Star Tower on Johnson Street.
During the investigation, Emmanuel Karmo, the security guard who reported the incident told the police that he was attacked by four (4) unknown masked men armed with knives, pistols and other deadly weapons. The investigation established that the outside Iron Gate to the fence was not locked on the night of the incident. It was also observed that the inner iron gate to the room housed the Lone Star Cell equipment was damaged.
He said the investigation Team on Friday, February 15, 2019 obtained statements from several individuals on guard that night. The investigation also spoke to Atty. Winston R.M. Tubman of Lone Star.
The Police Report however revealed that during the Team’s follow-up action, Mr. Fidel Saydee was invited in writing, to provide the necessary information on the alleged stolen transmitter including description and serial number of the equipment, purchase order, user’s manual, but failed to make the information available.
Regarding findings from the investigation, Minister Dean said the name of Armed Robbery could not be established in the case rather burglary, the private security assigned at the Tower (Emmanuel Karmo) having failed to convince the investigation, that he was attacked by four (4) unidentified men armed with knives and pistols:
He said outside iron gate to the fence of the building was not locked on the night of the incident; and that the inner iron gate to the room in which the equipment was allegedly stored was damaged.
The Justice Minister said: “Due to the failure of Mr. Fidel Saydee to provide much needed information on the alleged stolen transmitter, it is difficult for the investigation to establish the actual identify of said equipment. The management of Foots FM is urged to provide the necessary information relative to the alleged stolen transmitter; to give the investigators an appreciation of what they are in search of as the probe continues for both the equipment and perpetrators of the crime.”
Report on District #13 Campaign Violence
An incident of Champaign violence occurred in electoral District No 13 on Saturday November 16, 2018, in New Georgia,Gardnersville.
The incident is said to have involved partisans of the Unity Party(UP) and the Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC) WHEN THE Liberia National Police launched an investigation in to the incident madam Cornelia Kruah Togba, the UP candidate was served a formal written communication, dated November 19,3018 inviting her to a conference on Thursday November 22,2018 at 10:00 am at the LNP Headquarters.
The communication also requested her to bring along people both from within and without her Party who may have witnessed the incident including victims of the violence, o aid the investigation. A similar communication was addressed and delivered for Mr. John J. Weah, candidate of the CDC, marking the same request of him.
According to Minister Dean, the LNP further served the National Elections Commission Chairman Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya, a communication dated November 19, 2018, inviting him of his representative to the Headquarters of the LNP to provide the LNP with the relevant documents to and the investigation.
Cllr Dean reported: “Unfortunately the two (2) candidates did not turn up, two other communications, dated January 24,2019 and February 14,2019 were sent to the parties. On February 20,2019 at about 10:30 am. Madam Cornelia Kruah Togbah showed up at the LNP Headquarters accompanied by her lawyer and promised to return with a compressive written complaint on February 21, 2019. Up to and including the moment of this press conference she has not returned with the comprehensive written complaint.”
Cllr Dean indicated that Mr. John L. Weah said he is not a complainant and any time Madam Cornelia Kruah Togba shows up he will be prepared to respond to her complaint.
He said the Liberia National Police is appealing to all parties involved to come forward with the required information to and the investigation, assuring members of the public about government’s unflinching commitment to maintain the rule of law.